The Lucid Sapphire Races Against The Plaid, A Bugatti Chiron, & A Racing Motorcycle

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A recent video over at Hagerty’s YouTube channel shared a race between not only the fastest EV sedans, but the fastest gas-powered car and a motorcycle to boot.

I don’t know for sure, but the video appears to have been shot near Lucid’s Casa Grande plant (south of Phoenix, Arizona).

The Contenders

Wherever it is, they’ve got an interesting lineup of cars to see who’s the fastest (at least in a quarter mile). They’ve got the Lucid Air Sapphire, the fastest car Lucid sells now. Sapphire is going to be their performance brand. The Lucid Air Sapphire contains a 3-motor powertrain at its core, which is the first of its kind from Lucid, with two motors in the rear and one in the front.

“With three state-of-the-art electric motors — all developed and manufactured in-house by Lucid — Lucid Air Sapphire reaches an entirely new level of performance,” said Eric Bach, SVP of Product and Chief Engineer, Lucid Group, at the time Sapphire was announced. “And because a three-motor Lucid Air was always part of the development program, it retains all the strengths of Lucid Air variants already on the market – including limo-like rear legroom, a voluminous trunk and frunk, and impressive efficiency.”

Lucid has unveiled new and advanced electric motors, which contain microjet stator cooling, wave winding technology, improved heat exchanger methods for greater efficiency, increased coolant flow rates for better power delivery and a redesigned battery system with more precise thermal logic.

As you’d probably guess, Lucid Air Sapphire’s 3-motor powertrain delivers a considerable amount of horsepower that surpasses the 1,050 hp from its dual motor siblings. With an output of more than 1,200 horses in total, not only is it currently the world’s most powerful electric sedan, but also the mightiest overall.

Lucid says it’s the fastest EV sedan, and they wanted to test it against the reigning champion: the Tesla Model S Plaid. Much digital ink has been spilled over that vehicle, and you can find out more about it pretty much anywhere, so I won’t waste your time on that right now.

Next was the fastest accelerating gas-powered car of all time: the Bugatti Chiron. That vehicle also has some impressive top speed records under its belt, so this may be somewhat of an apples to oranges comparison, but it’s interesting to put in there to keep people from getting confused about what vehicles accelerate the fastest in 2022.

Finally, they have a motorcycle, piloted by Josh Herrin. For a long time, motorcycles were always the fastest production vehicles on the road because they carry such little weight around. Today, EVs are challenging that assumption, so it makes sense to put a fast motorcycle with a good rider in the mix here, too.

Some Background

Before they get to the race itself, they went through some history. Many fast cars top out at 155 MPH not because that’s their physical limit, but because manufacturers wanted to impose a speed limit on the Autobahn. Why would high-end car manufacturers do this? Because politicians were probably going to impose a limit if they didn’t do that. Plus, the speed limiters are removable in most cases, so it really doesn’t stop people who really want to go faster than 155 MPH (250 km/h).

When they did this, 155 seemed like a good limit because it took time for cars to even get up to that speed. No production car did that in even a quarter mile, and only few modified cars could get to that speed in that distance. So, few people were really even going that fast in the real world conditions of the Autobahn except when traffic was light.

Today that’s not what it once was. Every one of the cars Hagerty tested against each other could easily get to 155 within a quarter mile. This, of course, upsets many motorsports standards. A Model S Plaid can get you kicked out of a drag strip because it’s too fast to be run without a roll cage, harnesses, and other required safety gear, and it’s ready to rock on the streets at that power and acceleration level.

The Race

The stark differences between the cars was apparent right from the beginning, and Hagerty captured it in detail from multiple angles. The Lucid pulled away from the Plaid, which itself was pulling away from the Buggati, which was supposed to have the most power of the three. But, torque puts butts into seats and makes you move over short distances, while horsepower can only help you later.

The Lucid got to 60 MPH in a mere 2.1 seconds, and achieved the quarter mile in only 9.1 seconds, at 156 MPH, setting a new production car drag record. It even beat the Plaid by three car-lengths. The Plaid even (barely) managed to fall behind the Bugatti, because the Bugatti had finally hit its stride near the end of the quarter mile.

What About The Motorcycle?

You’re probably wondering at this point what happened to the motorcycle. Its specifications don’t sound impressive, with only 210 horsepower, 91 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed manual, but the little 1.1L V-4 engine is only pushing around 429 pounds. Ducati even made some suspension and other mods to the bike to help it beat the Sapphire, instructing the rider to beat the tar out of the bike if needed.

The result? The Lucid initially pulled ahead. The power of quickly moving parts dumped into a clutch just can’t initially match what an electric motor can do. The motorcycle tried the whole run to catch the Lucid, and it would have beaten both the Bugatti and the Tesla, but it didn’t quite have the oomph to catch the Lucid Sapphire.

Power Is Less Important Than Control Now

Getting into these kinds of acceleration numbers, the fact is that now that power isn’t the only factor. Each vehicle has sophisticated systems to keep that power flowing into the pavement and propelling the vehicles forward. The systems are literally pushing the limits of what’s physically possible for acceleration, and we’re far beyond what a manual system could accomplish now.

Yes, there are faster drag cars out there, of course, but they decreasingly resemble a car that you can daily drive the faster they go. The fastest ones literally couldn’t make the trip to work, because they weren’t built for anything but the quarter mile. The Lucid and the Tesla are even remotely affordable for people to consider commuting in.

So, we’re going to see some exciting things in the coming years as these power wars continue.

Featured image: a screenshot from the video, showing the contenders in this race.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1773 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba